I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The 2015 Christy Awards

One of the most distinguished award ceremonies for Christian books held their presentation ceremony last night. The Christy awards began in 1999. They were named for Catherine Marshall's best-know work, Christy, which has over 10 million copies in print.

Here's the list of this year's winners of the distinguished award. 

Book of the Year: Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

Contemporary Romance: A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Contemporary Series: The Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starnes Clark & Susan Meissner

Contemporary: The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate

Historical: The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

Historical Romance: Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

Suspense: the Color of Justice by Ace Collins

Visionary: Once Beyond a Time by Ann Matlock

Young Adult: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

First Novel: Feast for Thieves by Marcus Brotherton

Congratulations to all the winners! I don't know about you, but my summer reading list just expanded! 

Have you read any of these books? Please give your recommendations to our readers!

Thanks, Teri Smith

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Our dreams—God’s plans

By Jennie Atkins
As you read this, my hubby and I are putting the last of our belongings into POD storage and heading home. Four years ago, I took on a new position that moved us twenty-four hundred miles away from where we both lived since we were born. It had been our dream to move west, to experience the Wild West, and to blaze a different trail rather than slip into retirement without accomplishing some of the items on our bucket list.
Many things have happened to us this year, testing our faith, and our decision to move so far away from our kids. The last being the loss of the job I came to Nevada to take on. Although low gas prices are a boon to the consumer, they are a nightmare to businesses who provide technology to oil and gas businesses. And as result I found myself without a job and in a spot where we are relying on God’s wisdom for “the rest of our lives.”

The most logical decision, albeit hard, is to move back near family. But through it all I can see God’s hand moving. We put our house up for sale and as a fleece of sorts, we priced it higher than normal.
We half expected the process to take several months.  It didn’t—our house sold in just under two weeks with a second bid in the wings. 

We expected someone to come in and under bid our price.  But they didn’t. They came in at full value.
We then anticipated the bank to balk at the high price when they did the appraisal.  They didn’t.

People…this is NOT fiction. It is God’s hand guiding us.  I have no idea where we’ll find employment and our final destination is unknown. But, I’m okay with that. Everything has been stripped away and I am trusting God’s plans for our future.  And, I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the rest of the journey! Especially if it even comes close to what we’ve experienced so far.
Although I won’t be able to answer your comments today because more than likely I’ll be somewhere on route 70 driving east, I’ll leave you with this quote:

“God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, nor sun without rain, but he did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.” (Author Unknown)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Quick and Dirty Grammar

Heidi here. So, I consider myself to be fairly grammar savvy. I’d say I was a card-carrying member of the Grammar Police, but recently I’ve decided it is not my job to make sure the rest of the world understands how to grammar correctly. (And yes, I did just use “grammar” as a verb.) Besides, unless I am absolutely positive I’ve not made any mistakes in my own writing, I have no business pointing fingers.

That being said, I still want to do everything in my power to be sure my own writing is as grammatically correct as humanly possible. In my effort to avoid drawing the unwanted--and often pernicious--attention of the most zealous of Grammar Police Officers, I’ve found a secret weapon that helps me to grammar with near-perfection.

I’m not sure a day goes by that I don’t make at least one visit to the Grammar Girl. Grammar Girl’s real name is Mignon Fogarty, and she is best known for her “Quick and Dirty Grammar Tips.” She calls her website, "Your friendly guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage, and fun developments in the English language." 

If you are unfamiliar with this amazing young woman, I will be your new best friend for introducing you to her, because if you are a writer, she will also be your new best friend.

Whether you get her books or you visit her website, you will find incredibly helpful tips or explanations for tricky grammatical issues such as “affect vs.effect”  or  “further vs. farther”  as well as punctuation helps (such as proper use of terminal punctuation and parenthesis). She also offers explanations on the correct use of phrases (“Deep-seeded or Deep-seated”) or when to use “i.e. or e.g.”  In addition to explaining the hows and whys of correct usage, she also includes clever little ways to remember her tips. Honestly, she's bailed me out of some pretty dicey grammar situations!

I could go on and on about how great she is. Or, I could send you her direction and let you discover her plethora of grammar information. Or, I could jumpstart your Grammar Girl education by offering you my Top 5 Favorite Grammar Girl Episodes!

                    5.) Split Infinitives 

                    4.) Ending a Sentence With a Preposition 

                    3.) Lay Versus Lie 

                    2.) Who Versus Whom (Part 1) 
                         WhoVersus Whom Advanced 

                    1.) The Top 10 Grammar Myths 

And hey, if grammar isn’t your thing, the Quick and Dirty Tips website also offers tips from The Money Girl, The Modern Manners Guy, The Get-it-done Guy, The Mighty Mommy, and The Tech Talker.

Your turn: Do you have a Grammar Pet Peeve? Do you have a Grammar Achilles Heel?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Thank you, Cora Nolan, for the world of books

by Delores E. Topliff

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” I do not know George R. R. Martin, who is credited with this quote, but he is/was a very wise man.

From my 6h birthday on, we lived across the street from a community library. I know now it was small, but it seemed vast to me. Cora Nolan, the librarian was everyone’s ideal well-read grandmother who answered questions cheerfully, tolerated my imagination, recommended books she knew I’d love, and added more to my life than she ever knew. Though she has gone to her earthly reward decades ago, she made me rich. Her impact equaled lighting a candle in a dark room with a flame that has grown steadily brighter.

Our library was open six days a week and I went daily. Through elementary school, besides homework, I read two books every day and discussed them with her. Though Lucretia Ann on the Oregon Trail, Adopted Jane, The Boxcar Children, and a biography series on presidents and famous people were Junior Reader size, not thick books, they added up. Soon I advanced to adult volumes. I read all of Sherlock Holmes by age eleven, and Pearl S. Buck and Steinbeck. When my card stock library cards frayed and tattered from use, she replaced them saying I was the library’s most frequent user. If I had one of those tattered cards now I would dip it in gold to mount on the wall to convey what her gift meant.

Books expanded my world and introduced me to other peoples, times, and places that I loved. What I found in books inspired me get involved, pursue dreams, and travel further than that elementary girl dreamed.

How many lives did Cora Nolan give me? A thousand thousand and still counting and adding more. How can I thank her? Pass on the gift.

Now, please tell how someone encouraged and influenced you. Tell us how many lives you live daily, monthly, yearly through great books--and how you pass on that blessing.